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November 6, 2007

Posie is finicky for a reason: Vet can help tell why

Yolanda works from home, and Posie is her constant companion.

Yolanda works from home, and Posie is her constant companion.

Yolanda has been feeding her calico cat the same brand of dry cat food for some 13 years, and Posie seemed quite content until the last month or so. It seems that Posie has become quite finicky. At first Posie ate a little. Later, she refused the food. Yolanda changed to a wet formula, which was initially accepted before being completely rejected. Yolanda switched to another brand of wet food; again the behavior repeated. Yolanda purchased a third wet food brand and, at the time of her letter, Posie is eating this newest formula. Yolanda wonders if she needs to be concerned.

The answer is a resounding yes. Any change in a pet's behavior, be it feeding or otherwise, needs to be explored.

Cats are creatures of habit. Any change in their behaviors, has an underlying cause. When appetite is involved, these causes can be very important and can involve their overall physical health.

Time to see veterinarian

It is time for Posie to visit her veterinarian for a physical examination and a diagnostic work-up to evaluate Posie's overall condition. The tests should initially include a blood panel and urinalysis as well as radiographs of Posie's chest and abdomen. This will allow us to "look inside" and see how some of Posie's body systems are functioning.

The physical examination is an important part of Posie's visit, along with the outlined diagnostics.

The calico needs to have her mouth checked thoroughly as dental disease or masses growing in the mouth can lead to a change in appetite and food acceptance.

Kidney disease is another potential problem that is especially common in older cats. Clues to this disease process are found with the diagnostic testing. Often, when caught early, kidney disease as it manifests in older cats can be managed very successfully. If left undiagnosed and therefore untreated, this disease leads to death.

Change in appetite is a sign

There are many other potential causes for Posie's change in appetite and food preference. The underlying cause may or may not show up on the prescribed tests, therefore requiring further testing.

One point I do want to make, though, is that often caretakers will assume that their pet is getting tired of its food and becoming finicky. They are rewarded for this assumption when their pet then eats a new formulation of food when offered. Unfortunately, this is virtually never the case. As I remarked earlier, there is always an underlying reason a pet changes its appetite or food preference. Physical disease must be ruled out as that reason.

Jeff Kahler is a veterinarian in Modesto. Questions can be submitted to Your Pet in care of LifeStyles, The Modesto Bee, P.O. Box 5256, Modesto 95352.

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